By: Christine Morabito – August, 2013
In the words of the late Woody Guthrie, “Some men rob you with a six-gun – others rob you with a fountain pen.”
The most powerful politicians in Massachusetts don’t work for us — they work for the labor unions. Our lawmakers sold their souls to organized labor, and now they have come to collect. While our public servants think nothing of breaking promises to their constituents, union bosses must be satisfied at all costs. Why? Because, without unions, some politicians won’t get reelected.
Unlike private sector unions, which operate by negotiating with profitable companies, public sector unions enrich themselves by raising our taxes. In return for money taken from the public treasury, unions reward politicians with campaign funding, grassroots volunteers and ultimately, votes. Hence, organized labor rarely meets a tax increase it doesn’t wholeheartedly support.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, hard-working taxpayers brace ourselves for $500 million in new taxes; feeling like battered women, constantly promised that our politicians truly care about the middle class and that they really don’t mean to hurt us, yet they keep doing so over and over and over again.
It is common knowledge that liberals in this state have an intimate relationship with labor. Unions comprise the largest group of delegates at any Democratic convention and union money goes overwhelmingly to the Left. Nevertheless, I still find it shocking when politicians announce their solidarity proudly and publicly, as was the case at the Democratic Party Issues Convention in Lowell a few weeks ago.
In addition to the predictable stumping for wealth redistribution, social justice and climate control, the speeches contained many promises of union gifts like paid sick leave for all and raising the minimum wage – things that will devastate small businesses and put many regular folks out of work. Governor, Deval Patrick praised grassroots Democrats, saying, “Because of you, labor has a seat at the table.” Really? Seems to me they own the table, and the chairs and the men and women who built the table. Not to be outdone, State Senator and gubernatorial candidate, Dan Wolf, opined, “Let’s be the party that not only helps organized labor – Let’s be the party that helps labor organize.” Again, I think they’ve got that covered.
State and city managers in Massachusetts, as elsewhere, are being forced to admit that promises have been made to these special interest groups that our governments cannot possibly keep. The enormously generous pensions, health care and other benefit packages amount to unfunded liabilities so unsustainable, they threaten to bankrupt our cities and our state. When low-skilled toll collectors make close to $100,000 a year not including benefits, and 631 transportation staffers earn $100,000 or more in salary and overtime, some able to retire in their 40’s with free health care for life, we have a serious wealth disparity between public employees and those in the private sector. Charles Chieppo’s Op-Ed in the Boston Globe (December 09, 2012) stated it perfectly: “Organized labor is the ultimate 1 Percenter and the rest of us are Occupiers.”
Some Democrats get it; the smart and ethical lawmakers, who, even though their jobs may be in jeopardy, stand by their promise to serve the public interest, not one protected class. Mayor, James Fiorentini, of Haverhill is one such public servant. Faced with the largest municipal debt in Massachusetts history, he stood up to union bullying, rejected labor’s unreasonable demands and obtained reasonable concessions on health care. Jeffrey C. Riley, Lawrence Superintendent/Receiver, should be commended for speaking truth to power and not kneeling at the altar of the Lawrence Teachers Union. Riley was quoted in another paper saying, “I cannot allow for ideology to get in the way of making the progress we need to turn around the district.” When unions refuse to make concessions, they, in essence, hold the people hostage. It’s a taxpayer shakedown, and it’s wrong.
Someone who doesn’t get it? Governor Deval Patrick, who chooses to hide behind the union label, championing budget busters like the Pacheco Law, prevailing wage and independent contractor laws, which eliminate competition from private, non-union workers, raise the cost of public works projects and discourage job growth and entrepreneurship. Cost effectiveness is apparently not something his administration worries much about. They just make budget shortfalls the taxpayers’ problem, as evidenced by the soul- crushing and relentless tax increases. So much for shared sacrifice.